by D.J. McGuire (who lives and votes in Virginia)
As Virginia’s campaign for governor careens to its conclusion on November 7, I do believe I have managed to solve at least one mystery of Election 2017. Namely, what in the hell happened to Republican nominee Ed Gillespie‘s tax cut proposal?
The answer is: it was a mirage.
Initially announced in March, to much fanfare, Gillespie’s tax reduction idea has been all but buried in a political graveyard. Television advertisements from his campaign say almost nothing about it, choosing instead to make Virginians believe: (1) every Confederate monument in the Commonwealth is the equivalent of religious icon; (2) every Hispanic immigrant is an MS-13 gang member; and (3) every former prisoner seeking to have their voting rights restored is a sex offender – all apparently in order to get the Trumpenproletariat in this state to rise up in anger at Democratic nominee Ralph Northam.
At first, I took this is just another depressing reminder that Republican voters – here in Virginia and throughout the country – were no longer interested in reducing the size, scope, and cost of government, but rather were hoping to use big government as a weapon against their perceived “enemies”.
Then, I went back to look at the initial March announcement, and I discovered an equally important reason: Gillespie really doesn’t believe in his own tax cut proposal. The caveats make it essentially impossible to implement.
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s report:
The cuts would be based on revenue triggers that are not defined in the plan, which leaves it unclear what specific economic conditions would have to be met for the cuts to take effect. Gillespie said the triggers would be designed at a later date by budget officials and the General Assembly.
Now, revenue–based triggers may sound responsible, but all they really do is add uncertainty to the policy itself, weakening its economic impact. Moreover, a revenue–based trigger essentially makes the policy hostage to the economy of the time (which is usually the greatest driver of state government revenue). In other words, the very economic conditions that would make the tax cut most necessary would also make it politically impossible to enact.
That is, of course, assuming the trigger is just based on revenue. The fact that Gillespie would let the General Assembly have a say in the trigger’s formation means it will most likely be based on the state of budget (i.e., revenue versus spending, rather than just revenue itself). In other words, the General Assembly can cancel a tax cut it really doesn’t like (the GOP majority in our legislature has preferred tax hikes to tax cuts throughout this young century) by simply spending so much money that revenues can’t keep up.
In summary, what Ed Gillespie has really proposed is a tax reduction that would never actually happen.
No wonder he doesn’t talk about it anymore.
Now, if I can just sort out the other mystery in this campaign: why Mr. Northam refuses to mention his plan to cut grocery taxes.
D.J. McGuire is the conservative Democrat on More Perfect Union podcast – and sometimes feels like he is the lone conservative Democrat in the country, but Republicans (like Fake Tax Cutter Ed Gillespie) keep making it easier for him.